A Beach Made Entirely of Shells?

While exploring Australia’s Western Coast, I learned of a beach that was said to be made entirely of shells. Entirely of shells? That had to be an exaggeration. A beach made of shells? Determined to find out, I crossed Australia by train, sought the counsel of a Princess, then headed up the coast from Geralton to an area known as Monkey Mia. If you want to sound like a local, always pronounced it Maya, never Mee-a.

The road to Monkey Mia is pretty spectacular in its own right.

The road to Monkey Mia is pretty spectacular in its own right.

Shell beach far exceeds expectations. It stretches for 60km along the coast of Shark Bay and in some places goes as deep as 10 meters! I expected a sand beach with a high concentration of shells but was surprised to see no sand at all. The beach really is entirely made of shells. Tiny tiny clam shells, or more specifically cockles known as Fragum erugatum. The shells are small and fragile enough to allow you to walk on them barefoot without hurting yourself. You can even run on the beach – with 30 feet of tiny shells underfoot.

An endless beach made entirely of tiny clam shells

An endless beach made entirely of tiny clam shells

Australia is not without it’s natural oddities and this shell beach is just one part of a very strange local climate. What causes the abundance of shells is an unusually high salinity in the L’Haridon Bight which is a body of water nearby. The high salinity has allowed the tiny cockles to thrive while leaving all their natural predators in far less advantageous positions. What you are really walking on is a massive overpopulation of cockles. How many shells are we talking about? It’s so many that the in the nearby towns you’ll find buildings actually constructed out of them.

Construction in Monkey Mia takes full advantage of the abundance of tiny shells

Construction in Monkey Mia takes full advantage of the abundance of tiny shells

The beach is a stunning thing to experience. The shells are perfectly white and you can come and go from the beach without having to wash a coating of sand off you each time. The beach frames Shark Bay inlet and the water is so warm and inviting it’s impossible not to wade in. If you visit Shell beach, don’t plan to swim too much. The shelf of shells extends out into the inlet over 100 meters. You can just keep walking and walking while keeping the warm waters at waist level.

The clear water, stark white shells and blue sky make for a stunning contrast along the shores of Shark Bay.

The clear water, stark white shells and blue sky make for a stunning contrast along the shores of Shark Bay.

Take a walk out as far as you can go and enjoy the silence, blue skies and shells between your toes. You won’t find anywhere else on earth quite like this. It’s no wonder they made this a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Shark Bay inlet lets you just keep walking. The water doesn't get deep.

Shark Bay inlet lets you just keep walking. The water doesn’t get deep and shells don’t end.

Like it? Share it!
Share on Facebook0Tweet about this on TwitterShare on StumbleUpon0Buffer this pageEmail this to someonePin on Pinterest0

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Comments are closed.

Google+